And all the nuances in-between — crown jewel of Georgia’s first, best planned city and a continuing nuisance of boombox-loud music and dangerously speeding teens and geezers. Or in Forrest Gump’s memorable ending: “I think maybe it’s both — maybe it’s both happening at the same time.”
So let’s say you buy this nice house with a sweet view of Lake Peachtree next to a paved golf cart path. Pretty soon you discover that the path brings some unwanted stuff close to your nice house. So you complain to the police chief and the city manager and you get tired of that so-called multi-purpose path and its annoyances, especially since everybody you’ve complained to just shrug their shoulders and don’t fix your problem.
Here’s where John Q. Citizen is out of options, except to move. But suppose you are not just John Q. Citizen.
Suppose one of the homeowners has just been elected to the City Council. Here’s where things begin to run off the trails … uh, rails.
You come up with the notion that what us old-timers still call the bike trail is no more than a city easement on your property, not really public property at all. You petition the city council to abandon that public easement so the offending cart path can just be closed off to the noxious public. Voilà, problem would be solved. Meanwhile, signs go up in your neighborhood: “Save our paths.”
And further suppose that the homeowner and new City Council member contacts the soon-to-be-retired city manager to lobby for an unusual addition to the cart path — a speed bump. And not just one but several, as well as instructions to the city about where those speed bumps should be placed in relation to the homeowners’ property. And, so it gets done — the most speed bumps per hundred yards in Peachtree City. And all at city taxpayers’ expense.
And to put fudge on the sundae, the City Council holds a closed-to-the-public executive session July 12 to talk about “property acquisition” — that section of cart path easement that the lakefront homeowners seek to close to the public.
Well, gosh. Now you have a looming legal mess that apparently nobody from the mayor on down foresaw.
Here’s the latest problem spelled out: The Georgia Open Meetings law allows the council to close the meeting to talk about “property acquisition.” But the property owner was an elected official involved in that closed meeting. The meeting resulted in the council expressing “no interest” in the deal. But I contend the damage to the public’s right to know had already occurred.
At a minimum, the homeowner/council member should have recused herself physically from all discussion of the cart path issue, up to and including her physical presence at that closed meeting.
Council member Gretchen Caola, who lives at the property under discussion, was physically present during a closed meeting at which property acquisition was discussed and — in effect — decided upon, even if the council majority was “not interested.”
In this matter, the council seems to have lost its perspectives on the law and the city ethics code.
This was not some random piece of property — it belonged to one of the five council members, who sat in on the closed-to-the-public meeting to decide on the fate of the homeowners’ property.
Why did not somebody raise a big red flag and say, “Wait a minute! We can’t do this! This is wrong!”
Maybe the public should call a meeting and invite the city council members to it. The meeting agenda would have one topic: “Get your heads out of your dark places and follow the law and observe common sense ethics.”
OK, so the council in its collective, no-public meeting practice decided and announced almost as an after-thought by the mayor: “There will be no more cart path speed bumps installed.”
Well, just a minute. When did it get decided — in a public meeting — that there should be speed bumps anywhere on the cart path system?
How about this suggestion: Before you screw around with the crown jewel of Peachtree City, how about you elected special people involve somebody more than “an advisory committee” with an agenda.
Here’s unsolicited advice: Keep the cart path paved and in good repair. For any other bright ideas, put them on the public meeting agenda and cut off that insulting timer.[An aside, the first house I bought in Peachtree City in 1978 came with a cart path easement — an entrance to the cart path system for the entire subdivision. I could not then and cannot now be more grateful for such a treasured amenity that my family with four kids enjoyed for years. A busy cart path runs past my back yard today. And when I say “runs,” I write accurately. I don’t want no stinkin’ speed bumps behind my house.]
[Cal Beverly has been editor and publisher of The Citizen since 1993.]
Near the end of May after our morning run, a man in a golf cart approached us as asked us what we thought of the new speed bumps. At the time there were only 2 or 3 new bumps installed and they originally seemed to be at strategic locations where a downhill met a curve. He asked if they impeded our run. My response was they didn’t bother us during our run and that maybe it would slow down a couple of the super fast bicyclists that we routinely encounter. He then pulled out his phone and showed us he had painstakingly complied all of the pedestrian/cart accidents on the city paths for the last three years, of course the lake area had the highest incidents but then it is probably the most used path in the city. He told us he lived in the blue house by the lake next to the cart path. We assumed he was the reason the speed bumps were installed and even then his conversation to us seemed odd, like he was seeking our approval. During the next few weeks more bumps were all along the lake cart path, near his house and on the path next to his house. His original story to us was quite one sided and there was a bit more that he didn’t want us to know. It seems they are the neighbors you don’t want to have living next door!
About teenagers we put a speed lock on their golf cart so they could not go over a certain speed. They hated it, but last time I checked I was their parent and not their friend.
Doesn’t it seem like every single work around we collectively come up with is another attempt to compensate for the police not doing their job on the cart path?
At some point, citizens just have to do the right thing…it appears some cannot handle that. Parents buying kids 30 MPH golf carts is not the right thing.
I’m new in town. Something needs to be done about speeding teenagers on carts coming at you around blind curves with five and sometime six passengers. Why is speed bumps an issue and this is not? Someone is going to get hurt bad one of these days.
Because, speed bumps don’t slow down Johnny or Emma driving their parents golf cart…
Someone is going to get hurt bad one of these days? Don’t remember hearing of injuries by pedestrians being run over by a golf cart, but there have been injuries reported of people falling off golf carts – even death. Guess speed bumps would more than likely promote ejecting riders of the carts when they fail to slow down.
Ah, new to town Cono, you have completely whiffed on the topic Cal has presented here.
Whiffed? Ok, we’ll address it in the future after the fact.
Those of us who have used the cart paths any length of time know what a safety problem it can be, especially once school lets out. I have mixed opinions about speedbumps. They’re a pain, literally, but so is the problem they’re designed to address. I just wish all could drive responsibly, but human nature being what it is, that is an unrealistic wish. I doubt police resources allow more presence on the pathways. And speedbumps only address the short distance it takes to slow down then speed back up. And they can be a danger to bicyclists. Or, as I saw yesterday, a high-speed cyclist swerving around a speedbump to maintain their high speed can be a danger as much as speeding golf carts. No good solutions, but I disagree with simply adding more speedbumps. As often happens, most of us are being inconvenienced due to the actions of a few.
Separately, as for those who bought a home next to a path, you did know the path was there before you bought the home, didn’t you?
But it would cost the taxpayers a fortune to place speed bumps every 40-50 feet on over a hundred miles of cart paths!
In the “PTC Politics” Facebook page, someone posted a letter Joe Coala(a self described patient man) has penned to the City Council and City Attorney. A poster in response has posted pictures of his home and the golf cart path from several years ago(pre Joe) and now. Joe has moved his mailbox to right beside the path, taken out a huge tree that was a buffer between his home and the path, repaved his driveway, moving(encroaching) it right beside the golf cart, path, and put up a shed right beside the path. I wish Cal had added all of this info to his report.
I saw that letter, crazy.
Went by there this morning. That huge shed is not at least 10 feet from the path, which is the minimum setback requirement I could find in the code. Does anyone know if this is the requirement?
There is a city easement between mine and my neighbor’s property and I could not build a shed within 10 feet of the easement!
Good to know… Definitely abusing the system and getting special favors. My guess would be no permit was pulled to place the shed. This needs to be fixed and fines should be levied. Caola needs to resign, so sad that a new resident does this to our community.
Thank you no Soup, it is encouraging to see someone who sees the big picture here.
Apparently Soup’s guesswork matches yours drdr. I prefer facts. You might look for a hobby 😉
Hometown, you ought to get together with Joe and Gretchen. I think you guys would really hit it off.
If you want facts, check out the situation around said property, with your eyes open this time!
Thank you for this piece, Cal.
Homeowner87, you are not wrong.
GAguy, The Fred is a solid idea.
In case you missed it:
Be sure to check out the Jan 3rd Opinion Letter thread entitled: “Peachtree City Council should implement cart path safety recommendations”.
As a result of the July 12th closed-to-the-public executive session, the City Council actually decided that “There will be no more cart path speed bumps installed.”?? What about the existing speed bumps??
Will the City Council remove existing speed bumps that were installed under the guise of safety? These do not deter speeding – teenagers and other lead-foots do not care about your cart’s shocks or your yards, they will simply jump them or go around them.
Meanwhile, the rest of us have to endure the “most-speed-bumps-per-100-yards” as directed by Councilwoman (Edgewater residents have indicated that Caola is involved in WHERE the speed bumps are being located).
This week, the path beside said property has become more defined by shovel and the pine straw has been pushed back (it had been obstructing the path and intentionally covering up the open space) – betting there will be a new fence installed or a pavement guardrail poured at taxpayer’s expense sooner than later.
There is still time to fix this gross overcorrection performed under the guise of safety. Look behind the curtain of this self-interest agenda AND follow the money.
This week, myself and three others witnessed a terrible fall by an adult female who fell off her bicycle due to the hazardous obstruction of a speed bump that extended from one edge of the path to the other. After dusting off and inspecting her wounds, this poor lady was lucky that she wasn’t impaled by debris/sticks aligning the nature path. We were all so thankful that this distressing occurrence was not much worse.
If there is no existing speed bump removal in sight (are the chances better than Gretchen resigning?), then the esteemed Multi-Use Path System Advisory Group should do what the July 15th City Council Letter states it will: “… any potential adjustments to speed bumps as deemed necessary.” and create the necessary open space (this should have been a no-brainer) on both ends of existing speed bumps to leave room for walkers, runners, cyclists and the like.
A temporary solution is not a solution, speed bumps cause carts to slow down for literally 1 foot of a 100 mile path and then speed back up again.
City Council, the time to course correct is now.
This City Council may be off to the worst, most self serving, elitist, rule(governing?) in PTC history, and that is saying something.
Ok so how do we get involved. This is unbelievable… but we must stop this. First off @Spyglass we are not part of the problem. My husband has severe back issues and this is now a reason we can not enjoy a drive around our lake. I had also read that it was because some visiting child hurt themselves while not wearing protection. So this council needs to be put on notice and Caolas needs removal immediately.
Yes the tax payers should not pay for the removal, but no matter how that goes we will.
Spyglass is clearly an idiot. Not much hope in getting this fixed though. It is always way easier to screw things up than to fix them.
Just because Spyglass opts out of your vigilante rambling over speed bumps does not make him an idiot. Some of the speed bumps may actually be necessary.
Anyone can see these speed bumps, which were added with no true citizen input, had nothing to with safety. It was all about Grethen. And the closed meeting City Council is complicit. If one does not see this wrong, well carry on.
I agree it appears our councilperson created an ethical and stewardship foul. I’m not opposed to a recall vote, though I don’t think it is necessary. We are discussing a junior Council Member with six months in office and probably has a few lessons to learn. I think a bit of civility is in order.
Let’s go for a ride..they are no issue..
Meet at 6 PM at the park Monday evening,,,
Doug Tucker, this is not a learning curve /a few lessons to learn situation, and I think you really know this. This is a crossed the line/no going back, needs to be out of office situation.
I took a ride down, they sure did build close to that path with that new garage…nice garage..storage shed is even closer.
The speed bumps should be removed at the expense of the Council members pay.
I still like the speed bumps in the PTC Lake cart path area…there was so much excessive speed in the straight aways and the curvy sections previously.
Thank you Gretchen, yes we know
There is a better chance that Gretchen will do the right thing and resign than the speed bumps being removed I am afraid.
If law enforcement can’t enforce the speed limits, the speed bumps need to stay. The two next to 208 Edgewater Way are excessive and need to go.
Council member Gretchen Caola should resign. Public office should not be used for personal agendas. Also, the fact that the rest of the city council let it go by unchecked is a huge red flag. We need people we can trust to protect our city and our rights as citizens.
If this is your first indication of a red flag you are not paying attention – and this is comparatively small.
This council is all in for rapid development, over population density, citizen input suppression, and complete failure to focus on attracting good job development to our city. Ugg. First we foolishly elect a realtor as mayor then a professional liberal politician. We have to be wiser.
Btw, there is a petition at change.org if you search “Excessive Speedbumps”. There’s over 1400 signatures so far. It looks like they need a bit more to get media attention.
Based on the amount of speedbumps, the intent appears to have been to make the trail so uncomfortable that no one would want to take their golf cart down the path anymore. The frequency of bumps is over the top.
Imagine if this many bumps were place on a road (where teenagers drive cars too).
This is corrupt and wrong. It’s painful to see the magic of Peachtree City diminished in such a way. I can see someone using this issue as a platform to unseat the councilwoman in the next election.
Homeowner87, we actually agree somewhat on this. It is painful to see. Do not agree about the unseat in the next election about Gretchen though. She has crossed the line, and is unfit to serve, for all the reasons Cal reported. She needs to be out now. Hopefully a recall effort will be underway. Maybe that will serve as a wake up call to the rest of the City Council about doing their job the old school way, people doing the right thing.
Thanks Cal for bringing this disappointing abuse of power to light. No doubt the damage is done. The annoying speed bumps are done. Gretchen appears to be an elitist that got her way somewhat, and the city council, with their closed door meeting, were complicit. Hopefully, Gretchen will resign, but elitists usually do not resign or take responsibility. I am very disappointed in Kim for letting this happen. I voted for her. She should have seen this for what it was. “Wait a minute. We cannot do this. This is wrong.”
Well said, Cal. Was aware of Caolas’ shenanigans, but the “most-speed-bumps-per-100-yards” thing is new to me. Is this true? Do the Caolas have the most speed bumps within 100 yards than any property in PTC? And were they placed there at Gretchen’s direction? The next council meeting may need to move to The Fred.
“The next council meeting my need to move to the Fred”. That’s a good one. LOL
Spyglass says anyone who’s not happy with speed bumps must drive his or her golf cart excessively fast, and you therefore are part of the problem? Hmmmmm… There should not be speed bumps anywhere, they are a bane to safe drivers everywhere.
The safe drivers aren’t the reason they are in place. Some folks think the go pedal is an on-off switch..they are the issue…
Spyglass, you need to reread Cal’s article again to see why the speed bumps, which are mostly around Gretchen’s home.
I live near this path, it’s the busiest in the city..i have seen some crazy stuff at the park in my subdivision. Something had to be done in that area.
I made comment below about the Councilwoman, it’s strange for sure.
I saw your take on Gretchen. OJ Simpson verdict was fishy also.
You’re missing the point… Because folks speed doesn’t mean there should be speed bumps (otherwise, there would be speed bumps on the interstate every quarter mile). There needs to be a penalty. I understand that our PD can’t sit there and stop everyone who drives too fast, but the threat of cart confiscation for 3 months along with a large $ fine might help. The speed bumps on McDuff and the road down to Kedron aquatic center should be removed also.
Missing the point nowadays seems to be an epidemic
Exactly. It’s an enforcement issue. And perhaps large fines for violations should be imposed by ordinance. That might get the attention of the violators and or their parents though I realize it isn’t exclusively young speeders. Everyone shouldn’t be punished for the actions of a few. I’ll give Ms Caola, who’s new to politics, the benefit of the doubt but she did step in it with this self serving attempt to solve a problem.
Fair enough, we did have one closed out of my neighborhood 4-5 years ago..I still miss it. It can happen. Should be obvious as to which neighborhood this happened in. Luckily, there is another way out…at the park. or onto a busy Fishers Luck via the street. No outrage came about. Where was your reporting then?
IF the speed bumps bother you, you are partly the reason for their existence. No doubt, this sounds fishy around the Council Members house..
Fishy is putting it in the most positive light remotely possible.